Pentax has hinted at plans to launch an enthusiast-level digital SLR later this year but admits that its DSLR business has been hit by the economic downturn and ‘fierce competition’.

Launched a year ago, the K20D (pictured) is a 14.6-million-pixel ‘mid-range’ model.

The new camera is expected to introduce ‘innovative’ features, along with improvements to the menu, handling and Live View system, said Pentax USA’s product marketing and support manager John Carlson.

In an interview with Amateur Photographer he said that the firm does not want to lose focus on the entry-level or enthusiast market.

Meanwhile, Mario Britschgi, head of marketing at Pentax Europe’s Imaging Systems Division admitted: ‘In the DSLR segment we will not reach our aims for this fiscal year (ending March 2009).

‘Economic downtrend certainly has had an influence on our business progress, but also the competition among the few DSLR players became quite fierce last year.’

Britschgi said that Pentax will aim for profitability, if need be at the expense of market share. ‘If only a smaller market position allows us to do so, we will accept and adapt accordingly,’ he told us.

However, Pentax says it will continue to pursue its target of achieving a 10% share of the DSLR market.

The news came as Pentax revived plans to launch it’s long-awaited medium format digital camera.